Picture of the Week #12: Ed Ruscha

The Picture of the Week feature was meant to be a gentle way to blog my way into the weekend with an eye-catching image and a brief comment to make some sense of it. I’ve turned out to be not very good at it, because I tend to post more than one image at a time. There are just too many pictures in the world. This week, I’m reminding myself of the marvellous Ed Ruscha exhibition I saw at London’s Hayward gallery before Christmas. It closed last weekend, so I’m afraid you can’t even pay a visit if you like what you see here. Sorry. Ruscha’s blunt-statement paintings match perfectly with the Hayward’s brutal, boxy architecture, especially things like his famous “OOF”, which I photographed at MOMA a couple of years ago. Anyway, I was particularly taken with his movie-related paintings such as The End (above, 1991) and Exit (below, 1990). Making something the subject of a painting gives it a special emphasis, a new status, and Ruscha likes to grant that promotion to the bits of text we’re not supposed to celebrate – the sign that points to the way out of the cinema, for instance, like an “off” switch for the movie, or the text that marks the conclusion, in this case the stuttering, scratched breakdown of the film itself as well as its finish. “Deathly but wry” is what I would write on the poster if it was my job to write posters…

Alternatively, you might find Ruscha taking iconic text and bringing it down a peg or two:

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